We are introducing son Jack as a contributor on the blog. Today he is sharing this beefless stew and the story behind how it came to be. As he says, it may not look beautiful, but it’s a beautiful thing to have.
The Beefless Stew Story
This stew was made out of necessity.
I work part-time on a local organic farm in Watch Hill, RI, and I was handed a few cubic feet of string beans (green, red, and wax) on top of a batch of arm-sized squash and zucchini. The owner’s wife, the primary operator of the farm, told me about preparing a stew with a mess of beans, and so I took that advice and added in a bunch of other stuff.
What’s on Hand or in The Fridge?
The effective role of this beefless stew is to be a catch-all for produce lying around the house. When in doubt, chopping it all up and putting it in a stew works wonders, and it is particularly hard to screw up. So far, this particular arrangement mimics beef stew wonderfully. Using more string beans, less potatoes, swapping in squash, peppers, corn, and other protein-rich beans can change the character of the stew without doing anything to decrease its appeal.
Add cayenne pepper if you require a bolder taste that your tongue may tangle with. As mentioned above, this is not just a recipe to try; this is a stew framework, the fundamentals for making huge amounts of food in a short time with little prep or attention required. For those so inclined, this beefless stew is a very, very hearty dish (see: lentils and potatoes) with a tablespoon or less of fat in the whole gallons-level batch.
Jack is a recent graduate from Bowdoin College with degrees in Chemistry and EOS (Earth and Oceanographic Science). Being a student of the environment led him to transition from a standard American diet to a whole-foods plant-based regime, allowing him to row harder, think faster, and dream bigger. Much of his exploration in cooking is done with his better half, Heidy, who is also a Bowdoin student. He is willing to try cooking or eating anything, and will be overly exuberant about foods that are just alright.